Friday, August 26, 2016

Week 4 - Malagasy Squad Turn Up

Manahoana! Salama ve ianareo? Vao vao? Salama aho tsara be!! Is it Pday again already?!?! Wow the weeks seem to be flying by. My time here in the MTC is over halfway done already! I cannot believe that! I leave for Madagascar two weeks from Monday! We should get our flight plans a week from today! That is just crazy!! This week was a great week. I will try to remember everything. First off, last Saturday was amazing. We had a goodbye devotional for the Tongan, Samoan, and Fijian districts as they left for the field early this week. The goodbye devotional was one of the most spiritual moments I have had here in the MTC. We sang 8 different hymns in 8 different languages and they all were hymns about missionary work someway or another. I have never felt a spirit so strong as we sang these hymns that I could not even understand the words to. It was as if the Army of Helaman was there singing with us as we sent these missionaries out into the field of battle. That will be a devotional and feeling I will never forget and I will soon be able to experience being the missionaries being sent off into battle. Then after that we were walking back to our rooms and two of the Elders going to Samoa started doing a haka! I caught the end of it on video as I will attach but not sure if it will be able to be posted on the blog. After the two Elders going to Samoa did their haka, one of the districts going to Tonga did a haka. I got that whole thing on film and will attach also. These hakas were so sick! Made me feel like I was about to go out and play one last game at Bingham. Then Sunday was amazing too! I love the devotionals and this one was the best yet! A band named Nashville Tribute Band came and sang some songs for us! It was the closest thing to a country concert I have had in about a month! Their songs invited the spirit and I felt it so strongly. My favorite song they sang was "Hardest Thing I've Ever Loved To Do" You all should go look them up on Youtube and listen to that song especially! It is about missionary work and it made me so pumped to get out in the field and get to work! It was an amazing devotional. Tuesdays devotional was good too! Elder Uceda came and spoke to us. He is from the Quorum of the Seventy. He spoke a lot about missionary work from perspective of an investigator as he is a convert to the church. It was a really good talk! Hmm what else...we are still teaching a ton of lessons with no notes! It can be difficult at times since we still do not understand all the rules of sentence structure but we are able to speak as I would imagine a little 3 year old Malagasy kid would speak. Funny story for the week! This one might actually make some of you laugh. An Elder in our district was teaching his lesson about the First Vision and he was trying to say "Joseph Smith was confused about religion" but the words for religion and breastfeeding are very similar and so instead he said "Joseph Smith was confused about breastfeeding." That is one of those classic mistakes you always hear about and it gave me a pretty good laugh. The language is coming along. I can understand much more than I can speak. It is crazy to me that we will be leaving in just over two weeks to get to the field and I feel like my knowledge of the language is no where near where it needs to be to be in the field teaching. Hopefully I can make some strides these next two weeks to get there though. I was feeling pretty worried about the language the other day and felt like I needed to improve a ton more than I have. Our teacher then said we had to come up to the front of the class and share a scripture and explain why we like that scripture all in Malagasy. I thought mine was going to be really bad but after I finished she told me that she was not able to do that until she had been in the field for one month. That made me feel good and gave me a little boost of confidence that the Lord knew I needed. Well I sort of had a motto for this week and I will share that with you guys as I don't know what else to talk about. We read D&C 111:11 and what I took from that is that we receive blessings when the Lord feels that we are ready. He has blessings in store for us but we do not get those until we show him we are ready for them. It made me think of a movie I had seen and in the movie a man talks about two farmers. The farmers both were in a drought and they desperately needed rain. They both prayed to God that he would send them some rain so all of their crops didn't die. Then one farmer got up and went and prepared his fields for the rain and the other just went about his day. Which farmer do you think God sent the rain to? I love this little story as it demonstrates the quote, "Get on your knees and pray then get on your feet and work." I want to say that quote is by Gordon B. Hinckley, but I am not sure. Well that is all I have for this week!! I hope you all have a great week! Thank you for the packages and dear elders and letters! They make my day! You are all in my thoughts and prayers each day! I will attach a lot of pictures. Mostly selfies haha. Some of our district with our teachers! The pictures with our teacher from the Congo are sick. She said do one picture looking "proud' and one picture looking "gangster" so we threw up our "M's" for Malagasy squad. She is so cool. I forgot to add that I was released as a District Leader this last week. Some of you may not know what a District Leader is exactly. So the District is all of the Elders going to Madagascar which is 13 of us. So basically in the MTC as District Leader, I got everyone's mail, interviewed senior companions once a week, and went to meetings on Sunday with the Branch Presidency. Really not a whole lot done as District Leader in the MTC. I am now just a regular old joe missionary haha. I am the senior companion out of me and Elder Allen which doesn't mean a whole lot besides I will be interviewed by our new District Leader! Have a great week everyone! Tiako ianareo! Veloma!​

*Elder Shoe's videos are too large to post so they are attached to the email reminder I sent.  If you would like to be added to the email reminder list, please email Thanks!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Week 3 - Almost Halfway Through the MTC

Manahoana Everyone!! It has been an overall good week here in the MTC! It is hard to be able to send a very detailed email of what we did this week as most of the days and the weeks are pretty much the same haha! I guess I will start off with my favorite parts of the week, the devotionals!! Sunday we heard from Brother Judd, honestly can't quite remember who he is exactly. He gave a very good talk on missionary work though! Tuesday was the day I was pumped for though! Elder Holland was supposed to be coming to speak to us!!! But for some reason he bailed on the MTC and the Young Women's General President came and spoke. I was pretty bummed at first but quickly got over it as Sister Oscarson gave a very good talk. She talked about having no regrets out here these next two years and she showed the Mormon message about the gardener cutting down the bush to make it better. Both of these parts of her talks made me feel the spirit a lot. I took to heart what she said about having no regrets. The night before that devotional I was laying in bed and the thought and voice of my dad came into my mind. He had often told me that I have two years to serve the Lord and the rest of my life to think about it. I wondered why that had came to my mind as I was laying in bed and I am usually so tired when I got to bed I do not have a lot of thinking time after my head hits the pillow. Then after hearing this devotional about having no regrets, I knew the Lord was trying to tell me something. I made a promise to myself that every single day these next two years, I would look myself in the mirror at night and ask if I had given the Lord my very best. If I could not answer yes to that question, then I am simply wasting my time. I hope to give the Lord my everything these two years, so much so that I will have to crawl off the airplane when I get home. While I still have many times in the MTC which I do not enjoy as much, I know that this is where I need to prepare myself so I can do all the things I would like to when I get to Madagascar. The MTC is fun but also very long. This week went by much faster since we finally have our second teacher for language classes! We had only one teacher our first week and so we had 6 hours by ourselves each day. It is much better having two! Our second teacher is a sister who served in Madagascar about a year ago. She is originally from the Congo. It is definitely going to help learning from her as she has a heavy African accent and likely talks the way I would imagine the people in Madagascar talk. She is a really cool lady and makes us laugh often. We also taught our first lessons this week without notes! Wow that was hard. We basically just memorized lines and did our best to answer our pretend investigators questions. I have a fairly good memory so the memorization was not hard for me. My companion does not have as great of a memory as me so he struggled a little bit and I had to do most of the talking which was hard but a good experience for me! Another one of my favorite times of the day is what we call our district bonding time! After we plan for the next day we all go around and we will have a question of the day or something like most embarrassing moment. It is awesome to hear stories from everyone and we all usually laugh a lot. This is my last week as District Leader, I believe. I think I will be released Wednesday. From what I hear in the MTC, they like to give as many Elders different callings they can so I will most likely not be getting another calling which will be kinda nice at times. I have enjoyed being district leader though as it has forced me to get out of my comfort zone and get to know and talk to more people. Well that is all I can think about for this week! I will attach some pictures! Thank you to everyone for the dear elders and packages and so forth! They make my day! I will try and send an email or letter to say thank you for them to everyone but know that it means a lot to me!! You are all in my thoughts and prayers! Have a great week! Veloma!

Oh I forgot to add this! Our teacher from the Congo told me that this is Shoemaker in Malagasy! Mpananokiraro! I wish it said that on my tag!

This is me and Elder Hunter with our floral Friday ties on. He wants to be on the blog. Him and Elder Wolfgram are my best friends in the district. Elder Wolfram is the bigger kid you see in some of our pictures. Wolfgram played football at PG and he was 5A state wrestling champ his senior year. Elder Hunter played basketball at Murray until his sophomore year and played soccer for Murray throughout high school. They are both cool guys! Elder Wolfgram reminds me of Kix! (my cousin) I don't know why but his personality is a lot like Kix's!

Figured we would just get a picture of all three of us! haha. Me, Elder Hunter, and Elder Wolfgram! Oh and I have some time so I wanna share some of the stories my teacher told us about his mission in Madagascar! So first off, he is like up to my shoulder and not a very big guy and he said that little kids would see him and run away and scream because they had never seen a white guy before hahaha! He said the kids will think me and Elder Wolfgram are Goliath or something. He also said they have some weird tradition of digging up their dead ancestors and dancing with their corpses and skeletons. And once a tall missionary, like myself, was walking by and they asked him to hold up the dead corpse since he was closer to heaven. Not sure I am going to want to touch a dead Malagasy corpse, (haha don't worry mom) maybe if I am bored I will, but probably not.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Week 2 - 2nd Pday!!

Manahoana everyone!! Well my first week is down here in the MTC. The MTC is crazy to say the least. There are times when I feel very uplifted and times where I feel I am in spirit prison haha. My favorite parts about the MTC are devotionals!! We have devotionals every Sunday and Tuesday night!! Sunday night Matthew Holland, son of Jeffrey R. Holland, came and spoke about the Prophet Joseph Smith. It was very cool and spiritual. But Tuesday night was the best!! Elder Anderson from the Quorum of the Twelve came and talked!!! It was so cool! He spoke about how we can become better missionaries and how missions are hard but they are not complicated. I think he forgot to mention that they are not complicated unless you are learning a language such as Malagasy haha. The language has been frustrating to say the least. I know I am only in my first week but it gets a little frustrating when your teacher only speaks Malagasy to you and you ask a question and then he proceeds to answer in Malagasy which you do not even know yet. But I have learned a lot in the language so far! Funny we teach lessons to our pretend investigators like four times a week. And a couple days ago we went to teach him. We were going to read Moroni 10:3-5 with him and I needed a bookmark so I didn't need to search for the page. So I grabbed the first flashcard on my desk that we used to study vocab. And when we get to the point in the lesson to share the scripture I see that I grabbed the flashcard with the word "Diso" on it. That word happens to mean "false" so when our investigator saw that he just started to bust up laughing and I did also! It was a pretty bad and funny mistake on my part but it made us laugh so I was happy it happened. One of our teachers has been telling us stories of him when he served in Madagascar! They get me so excited!!! Well most of his stories.  Some I probably would have done better not hearing. I am excited for the day I get to actually start teaching people. Our days are usually the same besides Sundays and Tuesdays with the Devotionals. We also don't have classes on Sunday but I have lots of meetings with being the District Leader. I only have two more weeks of being the district leader though so that's not bad. District Leaders don't do much in the MTC anyway. But on all the other days we usually have a language class, teach an investigator or another language class, and then have PCL which is an hour of personal, companion, and language study. We also get an hour of exercise time which makes the days so much better! I wasn't able to get Elder Allen to do a six week program so we just go on splits and I lift with the elders that want to lift in my district and he goes with everyone else. We have lifted 3-4 times a week and then play sand volleyball or basketball on days we do not lift. Well that is all I can think of right now!! I will attach some pictures! Most are of our Sunday walk we take to the temple, some selfies for you, some are of me and Thomas (my uncle and aunt's nephew on the other side), and one of me and Brady Atkin who got here Wednesday! He lives in my building! Thank you to all who have wrote me on Dear Elder! Or who have emailed me!! They make my day so keep doing it!!! I am sorry if I have not been able to write back! Just not a ton of time!! I love you all and you are all in my prayers!!!! Veloma!!!​

My dad wanted me to let you guys know what I do on P-day. Well I wake up everyday at 6:30 and that doesn't change on pday. Then I will usually go and email a little bit, then go get breakfast and do laundry, email a little more, then go and do our hour of exercise, then email, and then we will go to lunch in a little bit and we will go to the temple in the afternoon and usually email after that, then we will go to dinner and go to our 3 hours of PCL which is personal, companion, and language study as I mentioned. I love parts about the MTC and do not like some things about it. I love my district. They are all very cool. A lot of them play sports and stuff and we all like to tease and joke around with each other so I love having a big group of guys I am with. But I do not like how pretty much everyday besides Sunday, Tuesday, and Pdays are the same. I am really anxious to start teaching real people and be in the real world. Our teacher has told us some crazy stories that get me really excited! The travel does not sound too fun though as it will like be over 50 hours of total traveling! But better than sitting in a classroom for 9 hours a day!!! Love you all and miss you like crazy!

This is after the Sunday Devotional! Basically all the Elders that are from Bingham! It was awesome! ​Oh and I forgot to mention the video Character of Christ by David A Bednar! We get to watch a movie Sunday night and I watched that one last Sunday! It is so good! I suggest you all try and watch it this Sunday if you can!!!

This was sand volleyball last week!! It get pretty competitive but I am still undefeated haha. This is my district!​

Friday, August 5, 2016

Week 1 - First Letter from Elder Shoemaker

Manahoana! Salama ve ianao? Well I am two days into the mission so far and I am enjoying it. It is definitely tiring though. Lots of sitting and thinking so much your brain hurts. Haha. So when I was dropped off, a host took me to get my stuff and then to my room to drop off my stuff. Then we went to a classroom where I walked in to a bunch of confused Elders. The teacher was only talking in Malagasy. Confusing and awkward to say the least. He was trying to talk to us and motioning with his hands all over the place and it was so awkward when he was trying to get you to do something. But after that class all of us just laughed at it. The first day was very crazy with tons going on. I have seen just about everyone I know in the MTC already. I ate dinner with Brayden Campbell our first day so that was fun. I have seen all the guys from school and I even saw Jill and Evan's nephew, Thomas! I love seeing people I know. So yesterday we had our normal classes which includes long language classes where you have to pay really close attention because he still only teaches in Malagasy. It is crazy how much I have learned though, in just a couple days and without our teacher even saying Hi to us in English!! So our district is 13 Elders. A lot more than I thought honestly. Our branch has a lot of people too. We have 8 different languages in our branch!! It is very cool to hear everyone speaking different languages in the halls and stuff. We have a lot of the Polynesian languages as well as sign language. A girl gave a prayer in sign language in our branch meeting yesterday and it was really cool. Also at the branch meetings we had interviews with the branch presidency to find out district leaders. I will be honest I did not want to be a district leader this early. I was getting pretty comfortable with the MTC by the end of the night Thursday and then I was told that I was assigned as District Leader. Shows that the Lord was not happy with me being comfortable and he needed to make me feel a little stress and burden. There is a lot of extra things I need to do with being a District Leader but I am up for the challenge. We room with 6 elders per room. So me and my companion, Elder Allen, are with 4 missionaries that are going to Marshall Islands. It has been fun although I wished we roomed with our district. Elder Allen is a good guy. He went to Corner Canyon but he was in Bingham's Marching Band because Corner Canyon didn't have one. He said he has never lifted weights before though and at the MTC you have to exercise at the same place so maybe I can put him through a six week program or something haha. I will attach some pictures of my tag, Elder Allen and I, and our district. We are having fun and feeling the spirit often!! Two times I felt the spirit especially strong this week is when our Branch President said to all of the athletes that the feeling of putting on the name tag and going to work in the field will be so much better than what we felt as we were walking out of the tunnel for our big games while the crowd was cheering. I don't know but that hit me hard for some reason. Also we watched a video and President Monson said I know that my Redeemer lives and may the whole world know it!! That is why I am here to go and teach the people of Madagascar that their Redeemer lives. Also there is a picture of our classroom. Oh and we have to teach our first lesson tonight which is all in Malagasy. Prayers will be needed hahaha. Mainly I will just read out of the book but still hard. In my building where our room is, Talli from 801 Stars is staying there too! He was the big Polynesian kid that moved from Arkansas and then he lived here and played with us for a little but then he moved back. It was so funny recognizing him and talking and catching up with him for a little bit! Some of the guys have started calling me Shoe or Elder Shoe too and so I am liking that. I don't know why but makes me feel back home when they call me that. Miss you all! Have a great week!!!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

He's officially a Missionary!


 Elder Shoemaker with Elder Packer & Elder Erickson from Bingham

And he's off!